A few weeks ago, Smithink conducted an interesting workshop in Melbourne on “Outsourcing”.
Kane Munro of Deloitte delivered the key note address “A real world experience of utilising outsourcing”.
In his presentation, Munro referred to an article in the Charter Magazine in 2012 by Morris Miselowski, a futurist: “By 2020, relationships between organisations, people and service providers will be far more intimated. Accountants will be part of an individual’s advisory group, and statutory requirements will be outsourced to some other country or person – that’s a fundamental shift.”
Kane also indicated that accountants are facing increased competition from a number of sources, including accountants who have already embarked on outsourcing, as they now have cheaper operating costs. In some instances, accountants who are outsourcing are utilising their cheaper operating costs to successfully market their services to clients of accountancy businesses which are not offering services at a lower rate.
There are many different opinions on the benefits of outsourcing and, indeed, it’s quite easy to get into a debate as to whether Australian accountancy firms should be outsourcing to organisations based in India, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The outsourcing organisations all indicate that the team that’s working on Australian small business affairs in other countries is well qualified and trained and there’s very strict supervision and security in place on the team members.
The questions accountants need to answer are:
• What type of service and at what price do you need to provide that service, to assist in building value in those businesses?
• What do your clients really think about the services you’re providing?
• How would they rate your services?
• Are you able to improve your service delivery by outsourcing some of the statutory requirements (compliance work)?
Most of your clients don’t have the benefit of being able to engage in-house experts to assist them in accounting, sales, production and marketing. They’re at a significant disadvantage to the CEO of a public company, who normally has a team of in-house experts with whom he/she communicates throughout the day.
If you had successfully outsourced a significant amount of your compliance, would that enable you to offer a wider range of services to your clients, such as business advisory services?
Some of the additional services you might think about providing include:
• Costing exercises – what would be the position if production was changed from one format to another?
• What’s happening in international currencies? Should we be taking out cover? This question applies equally to an exporter or importer.
• Preparing a feasibility study for the expansion of business operations.
• Preparing employment agreements for a new manager.
• Undertaking due diligence on a potential new customer.
• Liaising with the client’s bank on an ongoing basis.
• Assistance in the preparation of finance applications to the bank.
• Ensuring that the monthly financial accounts are prepared on a departmental basis, deliberately prepared so they’re “management friendly”.
• Preparation of financial reports for a Board of Directors.
In our opinion, there’s a significant amount of work an accountancy business can provide to a small/medium enterprise client, to contribute to adding value to that client. This will require the accountancy business to be able to offer virtual CFO services.
If accountancy businesses in Australia are going to undertake outsourcing of compliance work to suitable organisations in countries that can perform that work cheaper than it can be undertaken in Australia, this will give those accountancy businesses a tremendous opportunity to train the accounting team to be able to deliver an “awesome” CFO service for their small/medium enterprise clients. This will then truly enable an accountant to be part of an individual business’ advisory group, adding value and performing “real accounting work”.
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Peter Towers, ESS BIZTOOLS. www.essbiztools.com.au
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